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When are children old enough to start picking up after themselves and what are some tips for teaching them?

Can toddlers start helping by picking up their toys when they're done playing with them? When, in your experience, are children old enough to start learning the basics of picking up after themselves?

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25  Answers

3 0

If they are old enough to make a mess they are old enough to help clean it up. We always have my 3 yr old pick up after herself when she is finished with one thing before she takes out something else. She has been doing it since since she was about 2. We make it fun and get it done sometimes with a song and usually with mommy's help. Just this weekend she went to play outside with her dolls and blocks and umbrella, I was so proud to see that when she was done playing outside she packed up all her things and brought everything inside with her. That's the kind of thing that lets me know she is learning what we are teaching her!

16 11

Good job!!! Like this . My baby would say "Clean up ,clean up." She even went to my cousin house who is grown and told my cousin,you made a mess clean up!

2 5

I taught my sons from an early age. Once they were steady walking, I would have them pick up their toys and put them in their toy bin. Of course I had to teach them at first, and guide them until it became routine. They are now 4 and almost 3 and they know their daily routine. They clean up their toys, put their dishes in the sink, their trash/recycling in the proper bins, and their laundry in the hamper. They help with other odds and ends whether I ask or not and sometimes even excitedly volunteer to help. When they are finished, they feel quite accomplished and proud of themselves. I always make sure to thank them or offer some praise such as "great job". Definitely it also works as a great opportunity for positive reinforcement and boosting their self-esteem.

11 1

My daughter, who happens to have Down's really started getting it about 2 1/2. It does help to give specific instructions, "Put your blocks in the wagon," as opposed to, "Clean up."

24 60

As soon as they are able to make a mess, they are able to learn to clean up.

9 87

We taught our daughter as soon as she was able to get toys out by herself that she had to put them back by herself. At first it took teaching her even if it meant watching her take one toy at a time knowing I could do it in 2 min. It took about a week and she knows where everything goes in her room. So if I have to remind her to pick her toys up out of the living room she does it. It was the best thing I did that I didn't do with her sister who is 22. My youngest is very tidy..puts her dirty clothes in her hamper, she makes her bed, and even helps puts dishes away.

5 8

I have three kids 6, 4 and almost 2 and I get them all to help out. I feel it is very important to get them do their little jobs. My 23 month old helps me unload the dishwasher and put her dirty clothes in the wash and the older 2 clean their playroom for pocket money. If they want to buy anything they do so out of their own money so it teaches them responsibility as well.

15 32

I started at about 18months maybe a little younger with both of my children. They are now 11 and 6 and clean up after themselves very well. I will do the same with baby#3.

17 12

crawling to walking age teaching them at a young age that thats the right thing to do to start with make it kinda a little game putting them back in the toy box and when its all done both of ya or the hole family clap your hands like shes just done a really good thing stay consistent as soon as you break the routine of not putting toys away when finished so does she and learns thats ok coz when i get up in the morning chances are they are back in the toy box coz you have done the cleaning up while your child is in bed. with everything you are trying to teach your young one consistency and routine is the key

22 12

It's our job as parents to teach our kids the skills they will need to be self-sufficient out in the big world. As the single parent of an 8 year old boy, I've always taught him the task at hand at the earliest age I thought he could handle it. The need to get housework and chores done without anyone else's help has also made me to realize a few things. First, having your child pick up their own toys, bring dinner plates into the kitchen, put laundry/shoes where they belong and help with small chores gives them a sense of responsibility and pride. We all love the big smile and hearing "I did it Momma!". Second, having your child help, however they can, with laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc. lets you take your time in getting things done without worrying what their doing in another room while you're busy. We've all walked in to find a huge mess and thought "I was only gone a couple of minutes!". Third, having them help lets you spend much-needed time with them chatting about the day, telling stories and teaching them about how to cook, clean and fix things. You can teach them more than would ever learn watching the same cartoon or movie for the umpteenth time. They may not be old enough yet to do laundry on their own, cook an entire meal, clean the whole house, mow the yard or change the oil on your car (it would be really nice, though, lol). But they can help sort laundry, put away silverware, mix some pancake batter, put their plate in the dishwasher, feed the pets, rake leaves and hand you tools. It's also a great thing to just teach your child how kind it is to lend a helping hand. As my Memaw always said: "Many hands make light work". ;)

8 5

I totally agree with Denise that if they can make a mess they can pick it up too. I started this with my son when he was about 15 months old, just after he was walking steadily. I would have him pick up his toys and put it in his toy box. You have to be patient because they will take 10 times the time you will take to do. But do not go in between and finish it off. Now he is 4. Sometimes he asks for help and I do help him but again most of the time he is asked to finish it off on his own. You have to be encouraging in the beginning. The day he really does not want to do it, I help him out a little and then always appreciate that he is cleaning up.

0 0

We started at 2 as well. I would say when the child has good motor skills, can grasp things well and understand simple direction. Our 3 year old cleans up toys (and puts them in their specified places), makes his bed, cleans food/drink and art messes, puts his dishes in the sink when hes done, in his litle cupboard/drawer after theyve been cleaned and now has taken to cleaning up dog toys and bird messes (birds like to obliterate and throw their toys) on his own... I'm not complaining! Songs, games and simple direactions along with patience should do it :)

He turns 4 next month and will be tall enough to reach the sink with a step stool! Not only more responsibility, but more fun!! Kid friendly cooking anyone? :oD

1 26

Make a game of it and as soon as you can. We start encouraging as soon as they are mobile. Even crawlers can be encouraged to put one toy away. If you do it all the time it becomes an easy habit that is easy to praise since we all know how frustrating and impatient we can be with all the other unwanted behaviour that comes out!!

108 76

I have a rule of thumb, if you are capable of getting it out, playing with it, and moving to a different location, you are capable of putting it back. All of my boys started picking up after themselves pretty much as soon as they could walk. Mostly, because with three boys the playroom can quickly become a nightmare of kid clutter. Here's how I taught them to clean up.
1. Babies love making things disappear and reappear. make clean up time a game of making the toys disappear. "Where is the toys hiding place?" ...
2. Babies don't need to be overwhelmed with toys. Pick about 10 items, place them in a basket, bucket, some sort of container. Keep the container centrally located for easy access.
3. Toddlers are notorious for emptying out a toy cupboard, and up and walking away. This is the time that I introduce my rule of thumb. It is also helpful to teach when you are done playing with something put it back.
4. Luckily, I have a son that is particular about his toys. He really appreciates having an organized play space. For his room I use IKEA kids storage cabinets and bins. Each grouping of toys or type of toys has it's only bin. That way it's super easy to get out, and clean up. I remind him that in order to be able to find his toys easily, he needs to put them away where they belong. He's 7 so he gets it.
5. Make it a part of your daily routine. When I am at work, I try and have the kids clean up after about 20 minute blocks of time. We call it a quick tidy. It's just to keep their play space manageable. I simple have them put 5 things that they aren't playing with away. If your kids ever watch The Big Comfy Couch, this is known as the 10 second tidy. Once they do it they go back to playing.
6. Kids do the cleaning, Moms supervise. I don't pick up! I help shuffle kids about, and help them stay focused. They can do it, trust me. They may not want to, but that's where turning into a game and making it fun helps. Make a big deal about the fact that the room or space looks so good, they appreciate the praise.
7. Use a timer. When I find the boys are lacking focus I say "I'm setting the timer." This means that if anything is left on the floor when the timer goes off it is mine to keep. ( For a while). This is just a little extra motivation to keep them focused. To date, I have never had to keep anything.
8. Make sure they ask their friends who come over to play to help do the clean up. It just reinforces the behavior for your kids. Also, babysitters/caregivers need to be on the same page.
Bottle line, If they get in the habit, and you positively reinforce it, they will clean up no matter how old they are.

0 0

47 13

Well, I used to own a daycare and it was in my home, so I began teaching the kids in daycare as soon as they could walk to help with the toys. It was actually a big help, plus my own kids also pitched in and by the time I gave up the daycare due to back problems, my kids were experts. Now, they are NOT PERFECT. Our daughter is very clean and often does the entire house without help, she's 16. Our 13 yo son, however, does that heavy sigh thing like how dare we interrupt his day? LOL! But he will do it right and he knows how to handle all of the chores around the house. It just takes reminders and a cattle prod, LOL!

0 8


43 44

to be honest I started a little later. My son is just over 3 and I am now heavily pregnant and just cant bend over much now :o) so I have started badgering the poor little thing.

BUT, I must say he gets it and most nights packs his toys away. Puts his rubbish in the bin and also his dirty dishes in the sink.

Makes me wonder why I didnt start doing this AGES ago :o) makes my life a little easier hehe!!!

13 15

I am having trouble with this....I taught my four year old at an early age (around 2) to pick up her toys after she played and to pick up her plate after she ate. Now her and our 2 year old never pick up after them selves. They are pretty good about picking up after a meal but their toys on the other hand are EVERY WHERE and I am getting to the point where i had to bag up all their toys and they are going to have to earn them back. Is there anything that can help me get them to pick up their toys? I have tried songs and games but it works for a minute and then they give up.

5 0

Read "The Toys That Ran Away," a few times. Very importantly ask yourself if you have a system in place for them to actually be able to store their toys easily. Sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised! :-)

27 16

as soon as they can walk on their own....

7 19

My sons turned 9 and 5 in October and they have been tidying up after themselves since they were 2 years old. It's important to teach children responsibility from and early age. If they happen to spill juice they attempt to clean it themselves and they also take out the garbage and put away their laundry. I'm from the Caribbean and in the past the generation of our grandmothers tended to spoil the boy children especially, but as society changes so does the mentality. Now you will see men pressing clothes, cooking and not only taking care of the outside of the house but helping with chores inside. I believe it's important to have your child involved in picking up after themselves, which should lead to being more responsible teenagers and adults later on in life.

4 8

My Sons are 13 & 7 years. I tought them from small too. I little help from mom in the begining until it became routine. They clean up after they have bathed, clothes in the hamper, toiletries back in the cupboards etc. They make their own beds and clean their room - play police man when they are done (I am very fussy). After Dinner they collect the dishes, pack and repack the washer. I don't think I am a slave driver as it is great routine. They realised it helped and that they new what to do and things were done especially since I was in hospital recently and rest assured they couped well (with dad).

My daughter on the other hand, is very stubborn. She is two and half years old. We "fight" often. She does pack away and loves racing the brother to the kitchen with the dishes and loves beating her brothers to packing away the plastics (you should see what my cupboard looks like). When it comes to her toys, she needs alot of encouragement and usually ropes her brothers into packing away.

1 4

Asap. HAHa

2 9

My daughter is 3 and she has been picking up after herself for some time now. I help her occasionally and she is happy to do it. Its a great example for her 21 month old brother too.

21 0

... as soon as possible.

27 12

When ever my 2 yr old daughter makes a mess I have her help me pick everything up and she does, yes she also fiddles with whatever it is but she at least helps

1 20

From the time my kids were walking they were picking up there toys. Now at 4 my son can clean his room on his own and he does a very good job!

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